The most versatile fire extinguisher type for home use is the dry chemical fire extinguisher, which is recommended for normal fires as well as grease fires and electrical fires. Unfortunately, dry chemical extinguishers come with a downside. When used, a dry chemical extinguisher coats the surrounding area in a layer of chemicals that, while great for smothering flames, makes a huge mess and can damage electronic equipment. With these instructions, you can minimize the mess and efficiently clean the chemicals from this type of fire extinguisher.
Step 1 - Identifying the Chemicals
There are many different kinds of fire extinguishers used in homes, but two kinds will not require special cleanup. If you have a water fire extinguisher or a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, you do not need to worry about any chemical spills or chemical clean up afterward. The most intensive work you’ll need to do following discharging either of these extinguishers will be to grab a towel to sop up the moisture.
Dry chemical extinguishers are the ones known for making a mess. Though they are usually easy to clean up, different chemicals require different methods.
To start, check to see what chemicals your fire extinguisher contains. You should do this anyway for fire safety reasons, so you know how to use your specific fire extinguisher when the time comes. There should be a label or tag with all of the information you need. Once you know what chemicals you are cleaning up, you are ready to get started.
Step 2 - Cleaning
Now that you know what you are up against, you are ready to apply the specific, appropriate techniques.
If you are cleaning up after a halotron fire extinguisher, you are already done. Halotron safely disperses into the air, leaving no mess behind. Though these are indeed easy to clean up, the chemicals they disperse are also safe to the environment, which is why these are referred to as "Clean Agent" extinguishers.
If you used a fire extinguisher containing potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate, you can simply get your vacuum cleaner and vacuum away the mess. If you cannot vacuum for some reason, or do not own a vacuum cleaner, sweeping the residue away with a broom or a dry cloth will work just fine.
If you use a foam extinguisher, you will need to use lots of water to dilute and wash away the foam. Soak up the excess water with towels or paper towels when you are done.
Mono Ammonium Phosphate
If you use a mono ammonium phosphate fire extinguisher, also known as an ABC Dry Chemical extinguisher, you will need to scrub away the residue by hand. It is important to be thorough, as mono ammonium phosphate from tri-class extinguishers like this can damage sensitive equipment if allowed to remain.
Step 3 - Finishing
If there are any lingering patches of hard-to-remove residue or smells, you can use these techniques to get rid of them.
For small spots of chemical residue, mix vinegar with water and apply it to a rag. Scrub the spot you are having trouble with vigorously, and you should be able to get it out. This is an especially good technique for sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate.
You can remove any smells left by fire extinguisher chemical residue with any common household odor eliminating products.